…Particularly as 25 million people already go private.

Nurses for Reform (NFR), the free market think tank run by nurses, welcomes today’s decision by the government to allow cancer tsar Professor Mike Richards to up-date the rules and allow private top-ups for NHS patients in England. NFR Director Dr Helen Evans RGN said:

Once Richards and the government explicitly allow private top-ups the NHS will be over and NFR welcomes this. First, supply was reformed with the use of the high quality and more efficient independent sector. Now, politicians and their appointees are turning to the demand side: funding. Health Secretary Alan Johnson was right to say that co-payments would breach the basis of the NHS. Today the government is preparing to essentially consign the core principals of the NHS to the dustbin of history.

Private sector floodgates: 25 million go private with more to follow.

NFR has long argued that the NHS is an essentially Stalinist, nationalised abhorrence and that Britain can do musch better without its so called ‘principals’. NFR has also consistently argued that the inexorable rise of people going private for their helthcare renders the Richards review long overdue.

While in 1948 the NHS promised ti provide “all medical, dental and nursing care”, Dr Evans says that “in 2008, 25 million Britons are already going private”:

As the NHS hits 60, politicians are increasingly mindful that 7 million people have private medical insurance; 6 million people have private cash plans; 8 million people pay privately for complementary treatments, more than 250,000 privately self-fund each year for private acute surgery (more than 1 million in the life of a parliament) and many millions more pay privately towards long-term care. This is not to mention that a whole raft of other NHS services – such as dentistry – that are crumbling before our eyes.

Evans concludes:

In 2008, at least 25 million people are now paying privately for things that the state once said it would cover. Allowing private top-ups for medicines and treatment means that government is finally attempting to catch up with what the public have already come to endorse.

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Editor’s notes: Nurses for Reform (NFR) is a growing pan-European network of nurses dedicated to consumer-orientated reform of European healthcare systems. In Britain it already has more than 100 subscribers. Its director, Dr. Helen Evans RGN, is a senior nurse with nearly twenty years experience in the National Health Service. Over the year her careerhas seen her work in some of Britain’s leadng hospitals including Senior Infection Control Nurse, Princess Akexandra Hospital NHS Trust; Infection Control Nurse, the Royal London Hospitals NHS Trust; Operating Theatre Sister, St. Bartholowew’s Hospital. Helen trained at Whipps Cross Hospital in London’s East End and holds a degree in Health Management from Anglia Ruskin University. In November 2006 she was awarded her Ph.D in Health Economics from Brunel University and has also been a guest lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University.